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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/12/15

Guests: Jon Ralston, Susan Page, Eric Lipton, Adam Smith, Matt Schlapp,Aaron Sorkin, Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small, Michael Tomasky

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Bernie doesn`t love Hillary. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out here in Las Vegas, where the crapshoot for the Democratic presidential nomination begins for real. It already looks like tomorrow night`s big first debate, set for here in Las Vegas, is going to be a hot one. Not waiting for the clock to start, Bernie Sanders is tearing into Hillary Clinton for a lack of commitment, he says, to progressive positions. He`s hitting her on the environment, on trade, and last but hardly least, her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war. What will Hillary say in return? Will she counterpunch the fiery Vermonter? Will she question his socialist ideology? Can she afford not to? And what about the guy who`s not here, Joe Biden? Kasie Hunt is MSNBC`s political reported. She`s live outside the site of tomorrow night`s debate. Kasie, what do you hear on the street -- on the Strip, I should say? KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: On the Strip, where it is already approaching, I have to say, 100 degrees or so, Chris. So a hot debate, indeed. But I think that there`s a widespread acknowledgement here among the many activists, politician types who are wandering the halls at the Wynn, where the debate`s going to take place, that Hillary Clinton is really walking on a tightrope here. She`s going to have to be very careful in how she approaches all those of things. She has a lot to lose, unlike Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley, who really have a chance to step up and stand out. But I have to say, Chris, the thing that I keep hearing about here as I`m talking to people is Joe Biden. Everybody wants to know what I`m hearing about whether Joe Biden is going to run, what we`re hearing in general from his camp, from people who are close to him.    And we`re also hearing from Clinton allies in the halls overarchingly that it doesn`t matter. They`re pretty focused on trying to convince people who are here that what Biden does is going to be irrelevant to her future. I think most folks know that`s ultimately not the case, though. MATTHEWS: Isn`t that a bit of a change? The word was getting out about a week or so ago from somewhere, I was hearing, that if Biden ran, it would hurt Hillary Clinton and he`d be blamed for it. He`d be a spoiler. Is that no longer the argument? HUNT: I certainly think that privately, that`s something that people here are concerned about, this idea that if he does get in, he`s going to pull, basically, directly from her support and that if it ends up being this protracted Democratic fight -- and I will say there are people who are gearing up for that possibility on her side, whether they`re outside independent groups, not necessarily the campaign itself. I think there will be people ready to stand in. But I think right now, as they go into this debate, they`re trying to portray her in a position of strength and say that, you know, what matters is what -- the action she`s taking, what she says on that stage, instead of what Joe Biden is doing in Delaware. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Kasie Hunt. I`ll see you later. From Wall Street to the environment to matters of war and peace, as I said, Bernie Sanders is sharpening his attack on Hillary Clinton ahead of tomorrow tonight`s showdown. In a pair of interviews over the weekend, Senator Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton for her recent shift left on several key issues. Here`s Sanders on NBC`s "MEET THE PRESS." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The real, most important question is who is prepared to mobilize the American people to stand up to these very powerful and wealthy special interests? Whose track record for the last 25 years has been to say to Wall Street, You know what? We are going to have to break up the large financial institutions. From day one, I opposed the Keystone pipeline. TPP -- I believe that our trade policies going way back when -- I voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, PNP (ph) (INAUDIBLE) China. I think they have been a disaster for the American worker.    So people will have to contrast my consistency and my willingness to stand up to Wall Street and corporations -- big corporations with the secretary. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what politicians do. They draw distinctions between themselves and the opponent. Anyway, he wasn`t (INAUDIBLE) Sanders doubled down on those attacks today in an interview with NBC`s Andrea Mitchell. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: I think what people are going to have to look at is our track record. I did not come out against the TPP yesterday. I came out very early on in this process. I have been against trade agreements that have hurt American workers and the environment from way back. The question is, when so few have so much in this country today, which candidate is better prepared to stand up to the billionaire class and fight for working families? I will let the voters make that decision, but I`m confident, if they study my record, they will respect what I have done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Over the weekend, Senator Sanders`s campaign also drew attention to Hillary Clinton`s vote for the Iraq war authorization by highlighting a floor speech that he, Sanders, gave back in 2002 where he warned of the dangers of a U.S. invasion in the Middle East. Here in Las Vegas, I`m joined by Jon Ralston, the host of "Ralston Live," and Susan Page is "USA Today" Washington bureau chief, of course, and from Washington, I`m joined by "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson. Mr. Ralston, let me ask but this thing here. Politicians draw distinctions. Bernie Sanders is doing it. Do you expect Hillary Clinton to do that tomorrow night here, to really go at him and say, Look, you`re a socialist, I`m a moderate, we disagree on some fundamental things, or is she going to "me too" him? JON RALSTON, HOST, "RALSTON LIVE": Yes, that`s going to be really interesting to watch, Chris, because look, what Bernie Sanders is doing...    MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the answer? Is she going to "me too" him or is going to -- is she going to take him on? RALSTON: I think that she can take him on, but she has to be careful about that, right? If you`re the front-runner, you want to look above it all. Now, Hillary is not known for her warmth, and that`s going to be amplified by TV. So I think she has to show some humor in how she -- in how she responds to Sanders. But she`s also got that trust issue she`s got to worry about, which is why Sanders is doing that, too, in addition to having the double whammy saying, Listen, I`m the purist here. I`m the person that the base of the Democratic Party can trust because I`ve been consistent. You have not, Hillary. MATTHEWS: You know -- you know, Susan, Nobody cares about Bernie Sanders`s hair or whether he`s smiling or whether he`s warm, cool or somewhere in the middle. He`s just a socialist guy who`s going to sell his arguments -- you know, I`m going to make free college tuition. We`re going to have bigger Social Security checks. And he just -- you know what he`s selling, he`s selling social redistribution of wealth, which is a very popular idea with people at the bottom and near the bottom and somewhere in the middle, as well. Hillary Clinton has to be nice and sweet and all this stuff. Isn`t that a hell of a lot of bars for her to jump over, be sweet, nice, take on your opponent, defend yourself, define your position all in one night? I don`t know if it`s doable. Your thoughts. SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Yes. I think -- I think -- I think that`s (INAUDIBLE) But you know, the one thing -- the one advantage she does have over Bernie Sanders. She -- there were, what, 25 Democratic debates in 2008, so she has had a lot of experience on a debate stage at this level and he`s had zero. But that said, I think it`s really hard for Hillary Clinton to go after Bernie Sanders in a really tough way because she still assumes she`s going to be the nominee, and she`s going to need the enthusiastic support of the people who have lined up behind Bernie Sanders. So I think she does not go after him as a socialist or on some of these other issues. The one area which he might be able to make the opening for her (INAUDIBLE) to talk about herself as a doer who can achieve things, has a record of doing that, saying it might be hard for him to do that. But I think this is a tough thing for her to handle tomorrow night. MATTHEWS: Yes. You know, Gene, I think she`s afraid to take him on because of his youthful and sort of vigorous constituency out there. I mean, if she were to say, I`m not a socialist, and the moderator were to ask, Well, why aren`t you? What`s the difference between a moderate Democrat and a socialist, or a democratic socialist, as Bernie called himself a couple hours ago, basically. I don`t know if she wants to draw distinctions with him the way he`s willing to draw them with her.    EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, she thinks that at some point, she`s going to need those Bernie Sanders supporters, that she`s going to win the nomination and that ultimately, she`s going to need those people to enthusiastically back her in a general election. So in that sense, she can`t go after him. But -- but step back for a minute. She is ahead. He`s leading in New Hampshire, but everywhere else, she`s ahead. She`s got the super-Tuesday firewall that, as of now, looks pretty strong. And so she doesn`t necessarily have to go after him that vigorously on substance. MATTHEWS: Are you saying... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: She is really knowledgeable. Huh? MATTHEWS: Are you saying say engage in prevent defense, just let her have a few yards? ROBINSON: Well, look, they`re going to be talking about issues, right? They`re going to be talking about issues and policies. She`s very knowledgeable about issues and policies, and she`ll emphasize the positions that she`s taking now versus the positions that she might have taken in past years. And she`ll say, you know, That was then, this is now, this is what I`m going to do, and try to keep it forward-looking, as opposed to looking in a rearview mirror. MATTHEWS: Yes. I just wonder because I`ve grown up with the idea of Richard Nixon. He used to knock his opponents` heads off. He debated Kennedy in the great debates, tried to be his friend, kept saying, I agree with you in principle. I agree with your goals. By the time the end of the debate was over, it was pathetic. Anyway, Senator Sanders is still out there talking up his socialist beliefs. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: Look, when one of you (ph) Republican colleagues gets on the show, you say, Are you a capitalist? Have you referred to them as capitalists?    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Are you a capitalist? SANDERS: No. I`m a democratic socialist. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, he`s running to be commander-in-chief, by the way, but he`s also talked openly about why he believed he should have been excused from military service in the Vietnam war on moral grounds. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: This is over 50 years ago, 5-0 years ago, when I was a pretty young guy. I applied for conscientious objector status because I very strongly disagreed with the war in Vietnam, and I would not have fought in that war. I am not a pacifist. I respect people who are pacifists. I am not a pacifist. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And he finds himself playing defense on gun control, specifically, his support for an NRA-backed law in 2005. Here`s more from Bernie on "MEET THE PRESS." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": One of the things that I think some of your Democratic opponents might hit you on is the vote did you to protect manufacturers from liability. Why single just them out for full protection on liability? SANDERS: That was a complicated vote. And I`m willing to see changes in that provision.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, I just wondered if -- I`m going to go back to Susan on it. There`s a St. Bernard aspect to this guy. I really do think that nobody wants to hit him. I mean, Chuck there, you know, gingerly was going after what most people would consider real vulnerabilities. You`re a CO in the Vietnam. You claimed CO status, and now you want to be commander-in- chief and run the U.S. military and send men and women into battle to get killed and kill others? And yet when it came time for you to step up, you declared yourself morally opposed to war. Not Vietnam, war, Susan. I don`t know how -- I remember Ted Sorenson (ph) was knocked out of contention to be CIA director over this issue because he was a CO. And it`s a serious moral decision to say you`re a CO, a conscientious objector, and then to come -- later say, I`d like to run the U.S. military. PAGE: Yes. I don`t actually think that`s his biggest vulnerability when you`re thinking about the Democratic presidential nomination, especially at this point. I mean, the argument -- the tougher argument on war is the one being made against Hillary Clinton because every other person on that stage was against the invasion of Iraq. She voted, famously, in 2002 to authorize military action there. MATTHEWS: Yes. PAGE: And so, I mean, it seems to me that`s a bigger vulnerability. On guns, though, that is the one issue in which Sanders is out of step with his party now and with the kind of moment in the country. And so that is an area where I think there -- he might be subject to some -- to some criticism and attack tomorrow night. MATTHEWS: I think the 2002 vote`s still a problem for the secretary of state, former secretary of state. Jon Ralston, have you been hearing this talk of Biden out here? RALSTON: There`s a lot of talk of Biden out here. The Draft Biden folks have staffed up here. They`ve gotten some former party chairmen and former elected officials to staff it up here. I still think the greatest thing would be, Chris, is if they lowered Biden onto the stage like a Vegas show... (LAUGHTER)    RALSTON: ... with a light show, and suddenly he appears. How Vegas would that be? MATTHEWS: Circus (ph) de Soleil. Anyway, Gene, do you think Biden`s going to lower himself on the stage any time this fall? ROBINSON: I doubt it. I have doubted all along that in the end, he`s going to run. So I don`t think he`s going to -- he`s going to appear as if by magic. But we`ll see. You know, anything can happen in Vegas. MATTHEWS: I think he`s going to watch tomorrow night with great interest and decide around midnight tomorrow night whether there`s an opening or not. Anyway, thank you, Jon Ralston. It`s great to be out here in his city of great -- what`s the word -- superficiality, I could say. But I`m not going to say that, but that`s the beauty of this town. Lots of fun out here. Anyway, Susan, thank you, as always. Eugene, thank you. And a reminder we`re going to have pre-game coverage tomorrow night live from Las Vegas starting at 7:00 PM tomorrow night Eastern. Then after the debate, at 11:00 Eastern, we`re going to have all the reaction and the announcements from the spin room again. Bill Clinton`s going to be out here tomorrow. He`s already out here. Coming up -- another big break for Hillary Clinton after a Republican staffer on the Benghazi committee says the investigation by that committee is what a lot of Democrats suspected all along, just a partisan witch hunt against the former secretary of state. This is good news for Hillary. And that`s ahead. And as House Republicans scramble to fill their leadership vacuum, Republican voters across the country still prefer Donald Trump. The rejection the Republican establishment is having on both fronts, don`t you see? And on the eve of the first Democratic debate, is it too late for Joe Biden to make his move? Finally, "Let Me Finish" with Joe Biden and what I think he should do.    This is HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Las Vegas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: With one day before the first Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton is holding her own in the national polls. Wait`ll you get these numbers. A new CBS poll has Clinton up by 19 nationally. It`s Clinton 46, Sanders 27, Biden 16. But Sanders is nipping at her heels in Iowa. According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll -- that`s a Marist poll, as well -- Hillary`s lead is close to 5. It`s Clinton 33, Sanders at 28, just 5 back, Biden at 22. In New Hampshire, Bernie, however, is soaring. He`s up over Clinton by 14. It`s Sanders 42, Clinton 28, Biden 18. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, there`s more evidence that the focus of the Republican-led Benghazi committee, so-called, is to go after Hillary Clinton. First came this admission from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she`s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought... SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I agree.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Don`t you love going to the tape? And over the weekend, a former Republican staffer on the committee -- a Republican staffer -- who had been fired said the investigation changed its focus from spring, this spring, from the attack itself in Benghazi and turned into a, quote, "partisan investigation of Secretary Clinton." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRAD PODLISKA, FMR. BENGHAZI COMMITTEE GOP STAFFER: Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do. We, however, did not need to shift resources to hyperfocus on Hillary Clinton. We didn`t need to deemphasize, and in some cases, drop the investigation on different agencies, different organizations and different individuals. JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think that the results of the committee, based on what you saw, will be fair, comprehensive, thorough, professional, honest? PODLISKA: No. It`s not possible. The victims` families are not get going to the truth. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, in an interview on NBC News, Chairman Trey Gowdy, a Republican, pushed back hard against that staffer. His name, by the way, is Bradley Podliska. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), BENGHAZI COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, it`s a damn lie. And that`s not a word that I often use, but rarely is it so easily proven.    Well, he was a lousy employee, and that was evidenced by the fact that he mishandled classified information and he wouldn`t do what his supervisors instructed him to do. He never said a word about Hillary Clinton until it looked like he was going to lose his mediation, and then he went on another television show and made this allegation. But he never said a word about it in June, July, August, September or October, despite having ample opportunity to do so. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, this morning, "The New York Times" backed up Podliska`s main claims. They reported, quote, "Interviews with current and former committee staff members, as well as internal committee documents reviewed by "The New York Times" show the extent to which the focus of the committee`s work has shifted from the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack to the politically-charged issue of Mrs. Clinton`s use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state." I`m joined right now by "The New York Times" reporter, Eric Lipton. Eric, thank you for joining us. The facts here -- can we find -- is it possible that both the fact is that this guy is telling the truth, this former staffer, about the purposes of that committee being partisan, and also Trey Gowdy`s right about him not being a particularly good employee? Could they both be true? ERIC LIPTON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Certainly. And I think that, you know, every whistleblower has issues usually that come to you and that you have to evaluate, you know, how credible are they? What is the evidence that they`re presenting you? And then you compare that evidence that they`ve presented you with to the documents, and do you interviews with other people. You try to corroborate what they`ve said. And that`s what we did. We took his comments. We took them, you know, skeptically at first. But then the other evidence that we reviewed, which included committee documents, showed that, for example, in December of 2014, the committee -- Republicans proposed nine hearings this year that were going to focus on eyewitness accounts of the attacks, you know, why did this happen, why are we here, what have we done to correct the situation, what do we still need to do? These -- these hearings were supposed to be scheduled between January and October of this year. Not a single one of them has been held. So, there were other documents that showed that they were going to interview a dozen DOD and intelligence community officials. And none of those -- that was in February, a letter that Trey Gowdy sent to share with the Democrats about his plans for interviews. None of those folks have been interviewed. And, in fact, since then, in June, another letter came out with 18 State Department officials that they wanted to add to be interviewed, so -- including two Clinton speechwriters. So, there is other evidence which seems to back up some of his assertions, even though he has some credibility issues. He was fired for some reasons that appeared -- there are issues with his employment, for sure. MATTHEWS: Well, that`s good. Thank you so much, Eric Lipton of "The New York Times." U.S. Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State is a member of the Benghazi Committee. And Matt Schlapp is a former White House political director for George W. Bush.    Gentlemen, we are looking at some facts here that may seem like in contradiction. They may not be. Congressman Schiff, do you know -- Congressman Smith, rather, do you believe that this was a good staffer for that committee, or don`t you know? REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Right. MATTHEWS: And, also, do you believe you have evidence to corroborate what he said, which is the whole purpose of the committee now is to nail Hillary on something to do with e-mails, they don`t even know what it is, but not to really focus on what happened in Benghazi? SMITH: Well, I have no idea if he was a good staffer or not. He worked for the majority. I didn`t interact with him at all. But what he says is backed up by facts. I mean, look, this committee has been around -- or this special investigatory committee has been around for, gosh, well over a year now. I think it`s one of the longest-lasting congressional investigatory committees in history, spent over $4.5 million, and has done virtually nothing. Meanwhile, they interview everybody who has anything to do with Hillary. Look, it is clear that this is a partisan witch-hunt. And what this staffer has said merely confirms what I -- what I thought from the very beginning, but certainly what has proven to be the case here just from the committee`s actions. MATTHEWS: Matt, what do you think of this whole thing, putting it all together? I like to see complexity in things, because I know life is complex. And a lot of times, whistle-blowers, so-called, do have problems with their bosses. That`s why they turn on them. But they also can turn on them with truth, because that`s the strongest weapon, the best weapon to use against a boss you didn`t like or you got -- you felt you were screwed by. Get them with the facts. Does this guy have the facts, Podliska? MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: I don`t know.    The fact is, the committee had a terrible week. And I think it`s been rough on the staff as they`re having to deal with these stories. But the facts are the facts. This is not the most expensive congressional investigation. Senator Feinstein`s investigation of Abu Ghraib spent $40 million, lasted eight years. We have four dead Americans. These are serious charges. If the committee doesn`t get to the bottom of this, they would have committed -- it would be a great shame. And I think they want to get to the bottom of it. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Bottom? What is the bottom? What do you mean? Bottom of what? SCHLAPP: Let me tell you, they haven`t -- they have just started getting the e-mails from Ambassador Chris Stevens. I think that`s important in all this. They are actually looking at the e-mails and the data. And, by the way, it took eight investigations in Congress for us to find out how Hillary had this private server. This committee has actually unearthed a lot of questions. Let`s look at the information and let`s have a report. MATTHEWS: But is it -- is this the bottom of what happened in Benghazi or a fishing expedition to look for something bad on Hillary Clinton with regard to her e-mails? (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: If it`s the latter, the Republicans are making -- they`re -- they`re -- they will have a big problem on their hands. And I don`t think it is the latter. SMITH: Well, and they do. (CROSSTALK)    MATTHEWS: Mr. Smith, what do you -- what is it, a trolling operation on e- mail, or is it a look into what happened in a horrible situation in Libya? SMITH: Well, it`s clearly a trolling operation. I mean, Kevin McCarthy admitted as much. And this committee, it has taken a long time to do virtually nothing. Yes, other committees have lasted longer, but they were actually doing something. As was mentioned by "The New York Times" reporter... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: But they have investigated... (CROSSTALK) SMITH: Just a second. Can I just -- can I just finish a thought here? SCHLAPP: Sure. SMITH: "The New York Times" reporter mentioned they had nine scheduled hearings from January to October. They canceled them all. They haven`t done anything. (CROSSTALK)    SMITH: They`re not investigating what happened in Benghazi. SCHLAPP: That`s not true. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: All right, hold on for a second. Just finish, Mr. Smith, then Matt. (CROSSTALK) SMITH: Another thing that they have done is they have done interviews with witnesses in a partisan way. They have not told Democrats about those interviews. And then when those interviews didn`t reveal the facts the way that the Republicans wanted them to, they buried them, until we accidentally found out about them. This has been a partisan investigation very much the very beginning. MATTHEWS: The Cheryl Mills testimony you`re talking about, yes. I know about the Cheryl -- your last thought, Matt. SMITH: Not just Cheryl Mills, a whole lot of other witnesses as well. MATTHEWS: Matt, last word. Matt, last word.    SCHLAPP: This is always the case when Congress does -- this is always the case when Congress does investigations. If President Obama wants to lead - - have something like a Tower Commission, have a bipartisan commission to look at everything... SMITH: We did. SCHLAPP: Put a time limit on it. SMITH: They did. SCHLAPP: And let`s get to the bottom of it. MATTHEWS: OK. SMITH: They had a bipartisan commission. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, Hillary Clinton is going to testify in 10 days. And I think we`re going to see a lot of footage of what the members of the committee on the Republican side have and what they don`t have, and what Hillary Clinton says in her defense. It`s going to be a fascinating day. I hope it`s useful to us all. Thank you, U.S. Congressman Adam...    SMITH: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: Adam -- Adam Schiff, thank you. SMITH: Smith. MATTHEWS: Smith. It`s Smith. Right, of course. (CROSSTALK) SMITH: We`re both on the commission, but yes. MATTHEWS: And, Matt Schlapp, thank you. Up next: an up-close and personal look at former Apple chief Steve Jobs when I speak with the great screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. And then we will be back to politics after that. You`re watching HARDBALL, live from Las Vegas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)    MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We will be back to Biden and Trump and the search for Paul Ryan after this. But, as the title would suggest, the much anticipated feature film "Steve Jobs" is about the man who became synonymous with the company he created, Apple. Anyone who has ever owned an Apple device knows that his genius was his ability to make personal computing truly personal, which is why, 40 years after Apple was founded, it is today the biggest company in the world. But the movie is less about the accomplishments of Steve Jobs as much it is about the person. And Nick Schager writes in "The Village Voice": This is a swift and searing attempt to pull back the curtain on Jobs and in the process investigate the relationship between the myth and the man. And here`s a clip. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STEVE JOBS") MICHAEL FASSBENDER, ACTOR: Last year, Apple lost $1 billion. I don`t even know how that`s possible. We were less than 90 days from being insolvent. I had three different accountants try to explain it to me. The whole place has to be streamlined. SETH ROGEN, ACTOR: Start with two of the accountants. FASSBENDER: I started with the...    (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Could you come offstage? We`re going to go backstage for a moment. FASSBENDER: Leave him right there. I started with the Apple II team because we don`t, you know, make that anymore. ROGEN: Just acknowledge the top guys. FASSBENDER: Have a mimosa and relax. ROGEN: You will not blow me off right now, Steve. The top guys... (CROSSTALK) FASSBENDER: There are no top guys. All right? On the Apple II team, there are no top guys. There are B players. And B players discourage the A players. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow.    "Steve Jobs" is an up-close and very personal portrait of America`s most celebrated tech visionary. And last week, I had the chance to speak to the film`s screenwriter, the guy who wrote the whole thing, Aaron Sorkin, the man behind "The West Wing," of course, and HBO`s "The Newsroom." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEWS: Aaron, thanks so much for this movie. First of all, Seth Rogen is fabulous in the movie. I just want to say that. And if he doesn`t win an Oscar, I will be amazed. AARON SORKIN, SCREENWRITER, "STEVE JOBS": He`s fantastic. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about -- let`s talk about the character of Steve Jobs. I kept thinking during the movie -- and I watched it yesterday -- is incompatible, that he wanted to create a product, the Macintosh, that was incompatible with other systems. He was incompatible, the way you portray him here. SORKIN: Yes. It was very important to him that he have what was called an end -- a closed end-to-end system that was incompatible with anything else. But that`s not much different than the way -- you know, if I want a -- if I write a script, I wouldn`t want anyone, you know, adding something onto it or subtracting it or putting themselves into a character, like it was a video game.    So, I`m able to understand that part of him. MATTHEWS: About the ability to complete everything. What is the backstory, as we say in literature, like Hemingway, the backstory? Is the backstory here in the movie his personal life and his problems with his daughter and the woman he had the child with? Or is it his success? What is the main story? Because I think they are both in it. What do you think is the prime story of this guy`s inability to deal with life, his incompatibility with other human beings, or his incredible success as a tech visionary? SORKIN: As you said, both those stories are in it. And, you know, I wouldn`t dare try to come up with a psychological diagnosis of someone. I don`t have the ability to do that. And I have never met Steve Jobs. I did meet and spent a lot of time with people who were very close to Steve, including, most importantly, his eldest daughter, Lisa, who you see in the movie. He denies paternity of her. And that`s the emotional center of the movie, his -- his coming together with his daughter. But he was a very complicated man. He was a very brilliant man, difficult at times. But it was so important to him, not just to have a successful product, not just to have a product that would sell well, but a product that we would have an emotional relationship with. You alluded to that in your introduction. And that emotional relationship that we have with his products, for him, in many ways substituted for having an emotional relationship with him, with a person. MATTHEWS: Why was he afraid of having a daughter? He did have one. He was the father. And he didn`t seem to -- was it because he didn`t want her autonomy? He didn`t want someone else being able -- as you said a moment ago, to be able to change what he created by being who they are? SORKIN: Well, the daughter in the final scene of the movie asks him the very same question: Why did you deny that you were my father?    And when we were shooting the scene and rehearsing the scene, I told the actor, Michael Fassbender, who gives just a -- he blows the doors off the place in this performance. He has the line -- his answer is, "I honestly don`t know." And I told Michael that that is the most honest thing he says in this entire movie. He`s not shrugging it off. He`s not blowing it off. He says, "I honestly don`t know." And he means it. MATTHEWS: I want to show right now something that is at the very beginning of your movie. We found it from another source. It`s about Arthur C. Clarke, who, when I was a kid -- we were in the Peace Corps. We -- all we talked about was Arthur C. Clarke, the "2001" movie, this incredible futurist, the guy who knew what was coming. SORKIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: This will blow -- as you said, this will blow the doors off. Wait until you see now, just for a moment, Arthur C. Clarke seeing in 1974 the world we live in today. Here he is on the record. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARTHUR C. CLARKE, AUTHOR: The big difference, when he grows up -- in fact, if we wanted to wait until the year 2001 -- is that he will have in his own house, not a computer as big as this, but at least a console through which he can talk to his friendly local computer and get all the information he needs for his everyday life, like his bank statements, his theater reservations, all the information you need in the course of living in a complex modern society. This will be in a compact form in his own house. (END VIDEO CLIP)    MATTHEWS: Aaron, right down to Fandango, right down to ordering movie ticket.s (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Arthur C. Clarke saw exactly the way people in their 20s today think life has always been. SORKIN: That`s right. MATTHEWS: But it wasn`t 50 years ago. SORKIN: And we wanted to -- you know, it`s a little 30-second prologue before the movie begins, that Arthur Clarke video. And we just wanted to remind people that computers were these giant, scary machines. MATTHEWS: Yes. SORKIN: You needed a big room to keep one of them. And every time Hollywood wrote a story about a computer, the world always came to an end. They were always doing awful things. And that`s why it was really important to Steve when he was introducing the Macintosh that people see it as a friendly thing. He designed it to look like a friendly face. The disk slot was meant to look like a goofy grin, that it was inviting, that it was something you wanted on your desk and could play with.    MATTHEWS: I think one of Al Jolson, the great singer, once said -- one of his wives said, genius is easier to take from three rows back. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: This guy is a genius and a very difficult guy even to just chat with. I think Kate Winslet is fabulous as his number one there. SORKIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: But tell me about that. Why is a guy -- do you think -- in the movie, you ask the question -- I think she says to him, you can be nice and a genius. SORKIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Do you believe it`s -- both possible? SORKIN: Well, that`s a -- it`s a theme that keeps coming up in the movie. Do you -- can you be decent and gifted at the same time? And because I`m not a genius, I can`t -- can`t really answer that question. I like to think it`s possible. But, for Steve, you know, you talk to everybody, people who worked for them, and they all have their horror stories, but they all, to a person, will say the same thing: He made us better. No matter how difficult it may have been, he made us all better.    MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Aaron Sorkin. It`s a great honor to have you on the program. SORKIN: My pleasure. MATTHEWS: And it`s a hell of a movie, a hell of a movie, the movie, "Steve Jobs," at select theaters now and out everywhere October 23. (END VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEWS: Up next: the unraveling the Republican Party. We`re seeing it not just in the House, in its scrambles to find a leader, but also in the staying power of that man, Donald Trump, the man running against the Republican establishment. You`re watching HARDBALL, live from Las Vegas, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven`t gone after my Republican opponents at all. Not even at all. They`ve gone after me. I only go after them when they go after me. I`m a counterpuncher. They go after me, I go after them, and they drop out of the race. That seems to be what`s happening.    (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the rejection of the Republican establishment is happening on two fronts in this country right now -- in the Congress, where the Republican caucus is coming apart at the seams, and on the campaign trail where Donald Trump continues to sit on the top of the heap. In a national poll of likely Republican primary voters, Trump is the front- runner with 27 percent, trailing second is Dr. Ben Carson with 21 percent, another outsider. But after that, there is a stark fall-off in support for the other candidates who are down in the single-digit territory. It seems to matter what he says, Trump, or how he says it, Trump`s got more staying power than many of the experts predicted. Time for the HARDBALL roundtable: Ken Vogel is with "Politico", Jay Newton- Small is a correspondent for "Time Magazine", and Michael Tomasky is correspondent for "The Daily Beast". All of you in order starting with Ken -- it seems to me there is something wrong with a party when they can`t pick a leader. Definition of a party is after all the argument and debating and competition, you agree to at least agree you`re a party, you name a leader and you move on. That`s not happening with Congress and House of Representatives trying to find a speaker, and it`s certainly not happening with the Republican establishment. None of the elected officials are in double digits. Your thoughts? What`s going on with the Republican Party itself? KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Well, certainly, the presidential level you would expect there to be a debate over the vision of the party and the course of the party. At the congressional level, I think, though, it`s more telling that they can`t figure out that they can`t get behind someone to get things done, because, look, they`re already in office. They won this majority in 2010 in the House and 2014 in the Senate. And they are in position to -- they own it to some extent. And so, when they are unable to elect a leader, it`s because they are unable to agree on a course, and it reflects on them. At the presidential level, there is more of a debate and it`s more understandable they be looking sort of for a vision for the future. Less so at the congressional level, it`s more a function of just pure dysfunction. MATTHEWS: Jay, I think it`s existential, do you agree? I mean, this isn`t about how to build the party. It`s whether the party exists. Is there anything in common with, well, let`s say Donald Trump and Jeb Bush? Do they have anything in common? I can`t find it out. One seems the other one is a nebbish -- he`s a low-energy guy who represents the establishment. He is erasing the guy. Your thoughts? JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, absolute opposition to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seems to be about the only thing that does bring them together. And, frankly, the one thing that unites the party is the idea of opposition being the party of no. But they can`t agree on what`s a win these days, you know?    Is Ex-Im Bank taking that down? Is that a win or is that a loss? Some Republicans would say it`s a win. Others say it`s a loss. Business Republicans consider one thing a win. The fiscal conservatives think it`s a loss. And so, until you figure out like what your platform is, what`s the winning issue for your party, and what`s a losing issue, and let alone who your leaders are, it`s a real problem for the party. MATTHEWS: Tomasky, Michael, I think this is the problem. Knights of Columbus can always pick a grand knight. A Rotary can pick a president. A bowling team can pick a captain. Definition of a team is you pick a leader. If you can`t pick a leader to represent all of you, then how can you argue you`re the same team? I think it`s gotten to that point with the Republican Party. They can`t imagine with a speaker of the House would look like except somebody who will say yes to every crazy idea in the world and have the whole place in chaos. MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: That`s the problem, Chris. The Knights of Columbus, there is somebody who wants to run the Knights of Columbus. Bowling team, somebody wants to be the captain. There is no sane person right now who wants to be speaker of the House. I don`t blame them, because it`s a career-ending and life-shortening job the way it`s now structured. You`ve got these 42 people in the Freedom Caucus who are making these demands that will make the job utterly impossible. We are going to shut down the government unless we defund Planned Parenthood, defund Obamacare, and defund these immigration executive orders. Nobody remotely in contention to have that speaker job wants to make that deal and make that promise to these people. So, it`s completely untenable. MATTHEWS: And those people are going home to a grassroots Tea Party crowd out there saying, no more deals, right? They are responding to the grassroots as they know them at the next thing. VOGEL: That`s right. It`s really a function of the power and money migrating after citizens united and the after the empowerment of some of these outside groups and billionaires and multimillionaires who fund them. The power has shifted from the party to these outside groups, and these outside groups don`t have the same responsibility or accountability where they have to make deals and they have to keep the government running or they`ll be answerable to the voters. They are only answerable to the folks who are willing to write the checks. And so far, we have seen no diminishment in their willingness to write these checks. And I think that that really undergirds the dysfunction at least in the House and to some extent, at the presidential level as well. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The roundtable is coming. I`ll come back with you, Jay. I want to talk to you about Biden, is he in? Is Ryan in? Does anybody want to play this game anymore?    We`ll be right back. Biden doesn`t -- well, I think Biden really does want to play. I think Paul Ryan really doesn`t want it. Let`s just talk about Biden when we get back because he`s the talk of the street here in Vegas, on the Strip. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Vegas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHES: An Iranian court has convicted American journalist Jason Rezaian, according to a report on Iran`s state-run television yesterday. Well, Iran has not revealed which charges Rezaian was found guilty of, nor the sentence. It comes after Iran`s president hinted last month that he wants a prisoner swap with the United States. Jason Rezaian has already spent more than 14 months in prison in that country. His employer at "The Washington Post" has called the news an outrageous injustice. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table: Ken, Jay, and Michael. Vice President Joe Biden spent the weekend at home in Delaware with his family. You can see him here casually dressed in a local cross-country meet on Saturday not far from his house. But the clock is ticking, of course, for Joe Biden and some are saying it`s time for the vice president to put up or shut up about a possible run for president. That`s putting it brutal but it`s the way people think these days. With the first Democratic debate of course under way tomorrow night, Biden could decide whether to mount a third bid for the White House as early as Wednesday. That`s my thinking. Let me go to Ken and Michael and Jay.    It seems to me that Biden will wait and watch tomorrow night. I think that`s logical. He`s waited long enough. And if it looks like Bernie Sanders comes across like Victor Lazlo, the hero of "Casablanca" again, the way he`s been coming across so far, as the Superman of the left, the good guy, and Hillary has a hard time sort of getting it together tomorrow night against him because she doesn`t want to attack him, there will appear to be a problem in the middle. Will Biden then jump? That`s my whole premise tonight. Michael Tomasky, your thoughts? TOMASKY: Well, yes, that`s going to be a factor. I think another factor might be the way this Benghazi committee story has been turning over the last few days. Because it`s just been a disastrous few days for that committee and for the Republicans, which means it`s been a pretty good few days for Hillary Clinton. So, if the worm is turning on that one, then maybe Clinton is going to get out of the woods and maybe that affects the way Biden thinks about this a little bit. I don`t know. But I do agree with your premise and your lead-in, Chris, that the clock`s ticking fast. I think he`s got about a week. VOGEL: I think it`s already too late. MATTHEWS: I think the committee`s going to have another couple shots during the fall. You don`t quit when you`re behind, Ken. They`re going to wait and wait and try to troll for something and when they get something they`ll declare victory, whatever it is. Your thoughts. Anyway, back to Biden. When does he make his move? VOGEL: I think it`s too late for Biden. I think Biden missed his window. I think he has neither the grassroots energy of a Bernie Sanders that`s really driving the Sanders campaign from an economic populist standpoint, nor does he have the organizing ability and infrastructure that Hillary Clinton has. So -- MATTHEWS: So, you don`t want him to run?    VOGEL: Well, I`m not saying -- he certainly has a right -- MATTHEWS: You sound like you don`t want him to run. VOGEL: -- to run. But I don`t think there`s an avenue for him. MATTHEWS: Well, you`re basically saying there`s no role for him. You don`t want him to run. VOGEL: There`s no avenue for him. I think that he missed the window to build the infrastructure to be required to challenge Hillary Clinton and he doesn`t have the grassroots sort of organic base that Bernie Sanders has. MATTHEWS: OK. Jay, thank you. Your last thought. Last thought from you about this whether he`s going to make the move. I think he will. I think he wants to. I think there is an opening if Hillary has a bad night tomorrow night. She could have a great night tomorrow night. NEWTON-SMALL: Well, so the question is if he doesn`t do it what`s his other option? What`s the other -- you know, what does he do if he doesn`t run? He just sort of fades into obscurity? He`s just become vice president? MATTHEWS: Thank you. That`s how I think too. NEWTON-SMALL: So, it`s the interesting choice. MATTHEWS: You`re so smart. That`s how I think. I mean, people have to have options. I know everybody`s so cosmic about this. It`s about a career plan.    Thank you to the roundtable tonight. Ken Vogel, Jay Newton-Small and Michael Tomasky, it`s great round table. HARDBALL, live from Las Vegas. I`ll be back with my final thoughts on what I think Joe Biden should do. OK? We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the tricky matter of Joe Biden. Without any reference, explicit or otherwise, to the declared candidates, let me say something useful. If he wants to run, he should. The reasons are buried not in the country but in him. In the man Joe Biden is. I remember way back when he ran for the United States Senate. It was in 1972. I remember seeing the giant billboard of Joe Biden on the way to Rehoboth Beach where I was sharing a summer place with some other people. I remember passing that billboard looking up at this young guy and thinking, this fella doesn`t have a chance. He`s wasting our time. The Republican incumbent, a veteran who`d been both congressman and governor before and had won re-election before to the U.S. Senate, was not going to get beaten by some Democrat I`d never heard of. He certainly wasn`t going to get beaten in 1972, the year George McGovern was going to get killed in the Nixon landslide. Of this I was certain. Well, a month or so before the election, I began to get word from a pollster friend of mine about the Biden campaign, how he was really doing something, how he may pull the upset of the year. Well, he did. He beat the unbeatable incumbent. Not only that, but he did it cleanly with no hard feelings. The day after the election the two of them, winner and closer, Biden and the guy he beat, followed Delaware tradition and traveled around the state together. As I said, no hard feelings.    Joe, and this isn`t hard to figure given how it all started, may have decided, elected to the Senate at 29 and a tragedy in his family that came so quickly, that his life lay in hands greater than his own. He may have decided that he should leave himself in those hands. Well, he ran for president a couple of times, ended up being selected and then elected vice president and he never hurt anyone, by the way. All the hazard he`s walked into along the way, he`s also walked right out of. He`s made goofy statements, he`s bragged totally over the top. He`s been caught reading somebody else`s biography, a Brit`s biography at that, and yet I`ve noticed something -- he`s never hurt anybody with any of this. Why? Because Joe Biden`s a good guy. He may be too game and have ambitions that he`s had trouble catching up with, but one thing he`s not -- he`s not a guy who believes the ends justify the means. He`s not someone who goes out to win by hurting other people. His gaffes, if they`ve had any lasting impact, have done their damage only to him. So, I say -- Joe, if you feel you`ve got it in you, if you`ll die not having given it one more college try, go for it. The Democratic Party can surely stand it. The country may get something good out of it. It may even, though it`s a long shot, get you. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>